Discover the best Greek Islands to visit: your ultimate guide

Discover the best Greek Islands to visit: your ultimate guide

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Did you know Greece boasts well over 6,000 islands? Although only 227 are actually inhabited, that’s still an awful lot of places to choose from for your next holiday! The islands offer something for everyone, whether you want to party all night or enjoy a relaxing break. You might be travelling on a romantic getaway, a family trip or a holiday with the girls, but whatever you’re looking for, there’s a Greek island for you. Here are a few of our all-time favourites…

Best all-rounder: Corfu

At the top of our list is one of the most famous Greek islands. Corfu has been attracting visitors for decades now, and there’s a very good reason for that: it’s one of the nicest Greek islands of all. Whether you want to chill out on its perfect white sand beaches or hit the clubs for an all-night party, this island is a real winner.

Corfu truly has something for everyone. The island’s quiet, traditional villages let you enjoy a slower pace of life while there are enough lively clubs and bars to keep party animals happy. On a trip here, you can expect to see holidaymakers from all walks of life, from families to young singles to retirees. Once you’ve spent a bit of time there, you’ll realise why. This island, the second biggest in the Ionian Sea, lets every traveller find exactly what they’re looking for.

You can’t talk about Corfu without mentioning its natural beauty. Its rugged coastline and rolling hills are ideal for a relaxing getaway, but the island’s natural highlight is its Blue Caves. Go on a boat trip through these sea caves, and let the crystal clear, perfectly blue water take your breath away. You may even spot some playful Mediterranean monk seals frolicking in the water.

A picturesque view of Porto Timoni beach on Corfu, with two beautiful coves and turquoise waters surrounded by lush green hills

Best beaches: Paros

What are the best Greek islands to visit if you want to relax on the beach? That’s a loaded question! So many islands offer you the chance to chill out on white sand, gazing out over the turquoise sea, but we’re going to stick our necks out and say that if beaches are your top priority, it’s hard to beat Paros.

There are a whopping 44 beaches for you to choose from as you explore the island, but here are a few of our favourites. Kolymbithres Beach is great for water sports, with kayaks, stand-up paddleboards and other rental equipment to keep you active. Why not take a kayak out to explore the rock formations around the beach for a bit of light adventure? Chrissi Akti Beach is a wind-surfers paradise, while Santa Maria is one of the biggest and most popular beaches on the island, with plenty of sunbeds and umbrellas for those days when you just want to zone out.

It’s also pretty easy to get to Paros, making it a great addition to any island-hopping itinerary. You can fly there from Athens in less than an hour or, if you fancy something a little more memorable, hop on a ferry. These journeys take between three and five hours, giving you great views of the Greek islands as you travel.

Best for romance: Santorini

If you’re planning a honeymoon in Greece, then there’s no room for doubt: Santorini is one of the best Greek islands to visit with that special someone. You’re probably already familiar with the iconic blue domes of the island’s architecture, but to see them in person is really something special. Now imagine walking hand in hand down a narrow Greek street, surrounded by those picture-perfect buildings, maybe ducking into a taverna for a glass of ouzo or two…that’s a recipe for romance in anyone’s book!

If you want a romantic getaway in Santorini, choose a room with a view. There’s nothing better than waking up, opening the curtains and gazing out over the island’s stunning whitewashed buildings — all from the comfort of your own bed. When you do decide to venture outdoors, you can try volcano tours and hiking trails or even boat trips around the island. Don’t miss the world-famous Santorini sunset. If that doesn’t put you in the mood for romance, we don’t know what will.

The iconic whitewashed buildings with blue domes of Santorini, set against the backdrop of the sparkling Aegean Sea under a sunny sky

Best for family fun: Crete

There are some Greek islands with a definite adults-only vibe. Well, the good news for kids is that Crete is not one of them. This sunkissed island has plenty to keep children of all ages happy. Bronze Age ruins are sure to fire up kids’ imaginations — you’ll even be able to visit the Knossos Palace, home of the legendary minotaur. Plus, there are dozens of gently winding paths through flower-lined hills, a great way to get the whole family out in the fresh air.

Crete is the largest Greek island, so it’s no surprise that it’s dotted with several amazing beaches. You’ll also find tons of dining options here. Yes, you can enjoy some delicious, traditional Greek fare, but if you’re travelling with picky eaters, Crete has dozens of options for them, too. Best of all, it’s warm all year round, so it’s perfect, even if you’re looking for a half-term getaway.

An aerial view of the stunning shallow waters and sandbars at Elafonissi Beach in Crete, with people relaxing and exploring the unique landscape

Best for outdoor adventures: Andros

When you imagine a Greek island getaway, you might just think about relaxing on the beach, doing nothing more strenuous than applying another layer of sunscreen every couple of hours. However, if you’re an outdoorsy type looking for the best Greek islands to visit, there’s no better choice than Andros.

This island is still off the beaten path, so you won’t need to worry about elbowing other visitors out of the way as you explore its trails. Oh, and we should probably talk about those trails. There are no fewer than 25 marked hikes across Andros, which will lead you to some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Greece: stunning waterfalls, rugged hills, and lush green landscapes.

When you do want to hit the beach, you’re in luck. Andros’ beaches are on the wild side, with fewer sunbeds and umbrellas than on the more famous islands. They’re popular with windsurfers, and you’ll even find several schools where you can try your hand at the sport if you’ve always wanted to give it a go.

Just one word of advice: make sure to visit Andros in the spring or autumn. While it never gets as crowded as the other islands on our list, the scorching Greek summer is definitely not a good time to hit the hiking trails!

Best for island hopping fun: Ios

An island-hopping trip is one of our dream holidays. Why pick just one island when you can have three or four in one adventure? If you’ve never been island hopping before, we recommend starting with the Cyclades Islands. Most visitors stick to the big boys, like beautiful Santorini or party heaven Mykonos. When you go on an island hopping trip, you’ll also be able to spend time exploring hidden gems like Folegandros, Milos and our personal favourite, Ios.

Ios is definitely up there with the most beautiful Greek islands, with its picture-perfect beaches and striking rock formations. It also has plenty to keep you busy, day and night, and boasts some of the best nightlife in Greece, with dance music to keep you going until morning. If you’d rather do something a little more cultural, why not follow the hiking trail to Homer’s tomb, where the most famous Greek poet of all time is buried?

You can easily take short ferry rides between the Cyclades, taking you from one of the best Greek islands to visit over to another in no time. Bored with one? Don’t worry, as there’s another island to discover right around the corner!

Best for parties: Mykonos

Let’s stay in the Cyclades for our next island, the legendary Mykonos. If you dream of wild parties in the Greek heat, then this is the place for you. The main strip is to be found in Mykonos Town, where a range of eclectic nightclubs and bars will keep you on your feet until sunrise. You can also enjoy daytime parties at the island’s spectacular beach clubs, or why not leave them for the morning after? There’s no better way to sleep off a hangover than on a poolside Balinese bed!

Don’t want to party all day and all night? Well, there’s still a lot to see and do on Mykonos. Lose yourself in the winding, narrow streets of the town, or pose for pics among the island’s beautiful windmills. In fact, you could even spend your entire holiday on Mykonos without darkening the door of one of its famous nightclubs, and you’d still have a fabulous time.

People enjoying a candlelit dinner at a rooftop restaurant in Mykonos, overlooking the illuminated town and sea at dusk

Best for foodies: Kos

Kos is actually another one of the best Greek islands to visit if you want a party, as its nightlife is almost as lively as Mykonos’. That’s not the reason it makes our list, though. We’ve chosen it because we think it’s a gourmet paradise, so make sure you pack some shorts with elasticated waists if you’re heading this way!

This is one of the best places to indulge in some local specialities, like organic Greek honey or freshly pressed virgin olive oil. There are also organic wineries for you to enjoy a tipple or two. Just about every taverna on the island serves amazing food, so if you love Greek cuisine, don’t miss out.

In fact, you’ll find more than just Greek food here. Kos’ location means it’s also ideal for Turkish dishes, as it has a long, rich cultural heritage linking it to Greece’s neighbour. There’s really no better place to taste the best of the Mediterranean. Grab your fork and get stuck in!

Best for lazy days: Skiathos

Sometimes all you want to do on holiday is hit the beach and stay there. If you don’t feel like moving from your sunlounger, then Skiathos should be your island of choice. The beaches here have powder-fine sand, making them ideal for long, lazy days. Set your out-of-office reply, hit the do not disturb button on your phone, and go into full-holiday mode.

We also like Skiathos because it’s one of the cheapest Greek islands to visit. It makes a great starting point for an island hopping tour of the Sporades Islands. Take a ferry to the national marine park of Alonissos to check out the seals and rare birds, or pick up some artisan souvenirs in Skyros. What’s that? You’d prefer to just stay on the beach? No problem!

Best for lads (and lasses) on tour: Zakynthos

Last but not least — and let’s be honest — there’s no way we could compile a list of the best Greek islands to visit without choosing our favourite spot for a stag or hen do. So, drum roll, please — the winner is Zakynthos! If you’re looking for the perfect place for a wild weekend, this Ionian island takes some beating.

What makes Zakynthos such a great choice for one of these holidays is its fun nightlife. It’s a lot cheaper than Mykonos, so you won’t be breaking the bank as you hit the clubs, and you’ll also find lots of things to keep yourself busy during the day. It has some outstanding beaches, and it’s also a great area for boat trips. We recommend Shipwreck Beach and the Blue Caves, which are both ideal for exploring by day before you head back for a night on the town.

A breathtaking view of Navagio Beach on Zakynthos, featuring a shipwreck on the white sandy shore, surrounded by turquoise waters and steep cliffs

Want to go upmarket for your hen or stag do? You’ll find some truly amazing options on Zakynthos, too. There are great places to eat, with several wonderful restaurants offering breathtaking views over the surrounding sea and the rugged coastline. The island has a number of exclusive resorts and beach clubs, which are just what you need for those perfect Instagrammable moments. Some even have luxury spas, letting you enjoy the ideal pre-wedding pampering session. What more could any bride-to-be need?

More About Greece

Why not enjoy your next Greek island holiday with us? We’re heading to Corfu for an eight-day tour that will show you some of the best of this Ionian gem. From gorgeous beaches to funky nightlife, you’ll be kept busy all the way through your stay. You might just find that our Corfu trip inspires you to keep looking for more of the best Greek islands to visit. We’ll be right behind you!

Want even more? Good, read this: From its islands and inland, what to see in Greece.

WeRoad Team
Written by WeRoad Team